By Samantha Joseph
STUART -- Before he jetted off to New York to appear in off-Broadway and Broadway performances, Jody Madaras grew up in a northwestern Ohio family who was part of the American Legion and who valued patriotism.
"A lot of it stuck in my brain," said Mr. Madaras, who is now the star and creator of a musical that pays tribute to a unique era in American history.
"I remember these stories."
His new play, "All Hands on Deck," is a two-act revue that pays tribute to the 1940s USO roadshows and radiocasts. It features singing, dancing and comedy, with players tailoring each performance to local audiences.
The show is coming to the Lyric Theatre on Jan. 27 with show times at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
It is based on Bob Hope's tours to visit the troops and the Hollywood Victory Caravan, an all-star fundraiser that saw the day's biggest celebrities travel to towns across the country to sell war bonds.
"This is an authentic big-band show, exactly like the stars would do. It's a reproduction of the kind of show that Bob Hope and Jack Benny took the troops," Mr. Madaras said. "No one else has even written a show based on that. The audience really gets into it."
Jam-packed with hits from that era, the show features 42 songs from the "great American songbook." The cast performs "At Last," "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "I'm in the Mood for Love,"" "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "America the Beautiful," among several others.
In act one, celebrities travel across the country performing and selling bonds to fund the war. But when an emergency calls the group back for a live radio broadcast, they decide to stage it from the road.
The second act depicts their performance during that live radio show. The audience becomes studio guests during the interactive show and has a front-row seat for on-air antics, classic commercials, timeless songs and impromptu skits.
Described as "a great shot in the arm for America," the show stars Ashley McKay and Emily Knox Peterson, along with co-creator Quincy Marr and Mr. Madaras.
"I wanted to depict a time when the United States was really united as a county. The only year that truly happened was 1942," Mr. Madaras said.
"The best part for me is at the end of the show, when we get the longest standing ovations I've ever had in my life. You have veterans standing up, cheering and saluting. I think part of that is because the show brings back good memories."
The Lyric Theatre is located at 59 S.W. Flagler Ave. in downtown Stuart. For ticket information, call (772) 286-7827 or visit www.LyricTheatre.com.